Things are tough in Pa. But it could be worse — you could live in the Sun Belt
If you’ve gone grocery shopping or pumped gas recently, the chances are pretty good that you’ve winced or groaned as you watched your bill tick ever upward until it looked like the final price tag for a baseball free agent just a tad past their prime.
But as pricey as things have gotten in the Keystone State of late — and they most assuredly have — you can take some small measure of comfort in knowing that, comparably speaking, the northeast isn’t faring as badly as some other parts of the country.
Residents of the Sun Belt states are taking the brunt of the historic inflation, according to an analysis by Stateline.org.
While consumer prices rose by 8.6 percent in May from a year earlier, hitting a 41-year high, it was dwarfed by the 11.3 percent rise in the Tampa area; the 9.4 percent rise in California’s Inland Empire, and the Dallas area, which saw a 9 percent increase, Stateline reported, citing data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Taking a regional look, the states around Texas, including Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, had the largest increase at 9.9 percent, according to Stateline.
The lowest was 7.3 percent in the Middle Atlantic states from New Jersey to North Carolina, including Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to Stateline.
And while that data may be some measure of consolation, it still doesn’t mitigate the very real price rises that consumers are seeing across the economy.
Price rises for shelter, gasoline and food led the increases nationwide, Stateline reported, citing the BLS data. Gas prices are up 48.7 percent for the year, while the cost of fuel oil has more than doubled, according to Stateline.
Food prices are up 10.1 percent for the year, while the cost of shelter, which includes rent and homeowner costs, is up by 5.5 percent, according to Stateline. Costs for all other items are up by 6 percent in a year.
With the deadline to pass a new state budget just about a week away, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is keeping up with his push to dole out $2,000 cash payments to some Pennsylvanians as prices continue to rise. But its prospects for approval seem remote at best.
“The cost of everything from gas to groceries is a little higher right now than it was just a few weeks ago and for Pennsylvanians living paycheck to paycheck even a small increase in expenses can mean painful decisions like paying for food or rent,” said state acting Human Services Secretary Meg Snead said in a statement earlier this month. “In the Department of Human Services, I see the disadvantages in communities across Pennsylvania and these $2,000 checks would make a great impact as prices around us soar.”
The Republican-controlled General Assembly and the Democratic administration have until midnight on June 30 to reach a deal.